TSF brings telecoms to disaster area

Telecoms Sans Frontieres has set up a telecoms network to aid relief efforts in Syria after a dam burst its banks.

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By  Philip Fenton Published  June 12, 2002

Telecoms Sans Frontieres (TSF), the French non-governmental organisation that provides telecommunication facilities in relief operations, has sent a four man team to Syria to help in the rescue operations taking place in the Zeysoun region.

More than 20 people were killed and several thousand made homeless when 71 million cubic metres of water poured out of a six-metre-wide split in the wall of a dam. Homes were destroyed in the northern area of al-Ghab and several villages were submerged. Entire crops were lost in the flood and telephone and power lines in the area were swept away by the water.

The TSF team is equipped with Inmarsat satellite phones which allow rescuers to co-ordinate their activities and enable local people to contact friends and family.

The team has set up a temporary camp featuring an internet hub and video conferencing facilities.

"The first casualties of any disaster are often the communication networks, both fixed line and mobile, which seriously hampers emergency services and aid agencies in their attempts to co-ordinate relief efforts," said Samer Halawi, regional director of Inmarsat.

"During an immensely tragic and stressful disaster such as the one at Zeyzoun, we are proud to be associated with TSF's essential humanitarian efforts."

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